Posted by: sabrina | July 4, 2010

Ryanair gets rid of seats – passengers stand

Less money = less space

This seems to be European airline Ryanair‘s equation to justify why passengers on discount flights could soon hear the order “Please remain seated standing until the seat-belt sign has switched off”.

Ryanair also consulted Boeing about replacing the last ten rows of seats with 15 rows of vertical seats – and turn the back of the plane into a standing area.

The vertical seats are only one of a series of proposals by Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary (not to confuse with the Kiwi writer and poet!).

He also announced to plans to install coin-operated bathrooms.

Passengers would have to pay £1 (ca. NZ$ 2,20/€ 1,20) to use the on board toilet – a service, Mr O’Leary wants to encourage people to use at the airport rather than during the flight.

A year ago, the airline conducted a poll to find out if passengers would stand on planes if that would mean they’d fly for free.

The website does not show clear results or any form of response, however, Ryanair links to a highly entertaining YouTube video (see below).

“I’m taking out the seats ’cause I need more room and I don’t care if you’re pregnant,” sings Mr O’Leary.


WATCH THE VIDEO HERE (unfortunately I was not able to embed it)

Yes, the video is entertaining. And I presume it is also good advertisement – in a sense that those who have seen it, won’t forget it in a hurry.

But on the other hand is this also quite likely bad publicity. I cannot speak for you, but on my behalf I have to say that I do not feel attracted by the tought of an airline that advertises with a song that clearly says the airline does not care about the passengers.

The song clearly states that a broken leg or a pregnant woman are no reason for an airline to ensure seating on their planes.

But seriously, an hour can be a bloody long time, when you have to stand in the very same position all the time. This can hardly be comfortable.Not for a “normal” person – but even less for a person with a broken leg, a pregnant woman, children, elderly, people with disabilities,…

read the story on

read the story on the website of the SUN (UK)

What do you think?

Posted by: sabrina | June 29, 2010

Wrap-up: news, news, news

The infamous silly season won’t have any chance today. Lack of news? No way. There’s plenty of it.

Today I would like to give you a wrap-up on what has been happening, what is happening, what will be happening in travel news.

So these were my favourite top ten in travel headlines of the past few days. There are a lot more interesting stories out there and I am sure there will be more to come, too, but for now there is plenty to read for you.

Have I missed an exciting piece of travel journalism? Tell me about it!

Posted by: sabrina | June 24, 2010

Lack of security, Air NZ?

EARLIER today I wrote about the positive outcome of a passenger survey for Air New Zealand – what those passengers obviously did not know about was the lack of airport security on domestic flights.

SELF-SERVICE: Check in as many times as you like. (pic: AIR NZ)

3 NEWS/NZ HERALD: TV3 revealed in Auckland how easy it is to manipulate electric check-in systems – under a minister’s identity.

Checking in as Transport Minister Steven Joyce minutes after he had been filmed walking through the check-in, a TV3 reporter added another bag to the Minister’s luggage without him knowing.

Mr Joyce said people were not aware of this security breach and he considered the issue as serious.

According to the New Zealand Herald, a Campbell Live reporter checked in at an Air NZ electronic kiosk under Trade Minister Tim Groser‘s name, before the real minister checked in.

The reporter and her cameraman then used both the same name and managed to check in on JetStar, Pacific Blue and Air NZ flights.

When the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was presented with the outcome of the story, spokesman Bill Sommer asked the airlines to investigate and to report back “within weeks not months”.

He said the most concerning fact was that people were able to check in bags without being on the plane themselves.

“Identity theft is no risk in terms of security, it’s the incident of having bags on board aeroplanes where the person who has put the bags is not carried is of concern to us.”

Mr Joyce wants the loophole to be fixed as soon as possible.

He said the airlines had to come up with solutions quickly.

Air NZ spokeswoman Tracy Mills said the airline was grateful that the flaw in the baggage check-in process was brought to the airline’s attention: “We are moving swiflty to implement a remedy so it will not be able to happen again.”

– have a look at TV3’s story here

– read the article by the NZ Herald here

* * *

In March, I flew from Christchurch to Wellington and used the self-service check-in kiosks myself. Me and my family found it quite handy – no long queues, easy to handly, quick and uncomplicated. But now that I heard about these loopholes, I am a little bit worried.

What do you think?

Do you give the self-service check-in kiosks the thumbs up or do you think as quickly as they were developed and installed as quickly we should also say good-bye to them?

Posted by: sabrina | June 24, 2010

AIR NZ scores again: airline wins Which? survey

FIVE stars for cleaniness and in-flight entertainment – and Air New Zealand scored again as best international airline.

STUFF: A satisfaction survey by UK magazine Which? shows that passengers prefer the New Zealand airline over its British counterparts.

Air NZ scored five stars in the categories “cleaniness” and “in-flight entertainment” and four stars in the four remaining categories “value for money”, “checked in baggage allowance”, “leg room” and “food and beverages” and came with 86% first in the long-haul airlines category.

Singapore Airlines and Emirates came second and third, Australian airline Qantas came sixth.

– read the article on Stuff here

– read the full Which? Satisfaction Survey here

Previous related posts on International Departures:

  • Top awards for NZ tourism industry (click here)
  • AIR NZ with plastic cutlery on rank 5 worldwide (click here)

P.S.: Off topic: Go, All Whites go! Good luck for the match against Paraguay this afternoon! Go and score your way into the next round!

Posted by: sabrina | June 17, 2010

Departure Tax for Germany threatens NZ tourism?!

ISN’T it ridiculous that sometimes I only hear about things happening in Germany through New Zealand media?

DEPARTURE TAX: Soon to pay when leaving my homecountry? (pic:

For instance, the recently announced departure tax for German travellers leaving Germany. Didn’t hear about this one until I had a look at STUFF this morning.

According to Stuff, this could lead to a thread to New Zealand’s tourism industry. – read more

Now that would be bad, yes, I agree.

But – what departure tax are they talking about? It has not been in the German news whatsoever (unless I’m blind and deaf which I thought I wasn’t until now) and the Government’s press releases and website do not show anything alike either.

So what about the recently announced plans to impose departure tax? Who said that? Surely no German politician. (Besides – that probably wouldn’t work with Germany being part of the European Union and all that anyway)

If anyone knows more than I do regarding this topic, I would like to encourage you to post a comment! I would really like to know if Germany REALLY gets a departure tax – and how this will work in terms of the EU and the Schengen Agreement!

Posted by: sabrina | June 15, 2010

Wellington airport’s gates smarter

NEXT time I touch down in Wellington (and I will touch down in Wellington eventually!), another little thing will have changed at the airport. Well, it has already, actually.

STUFF: SmartGate is here. I won’t be able to use it, because it only works for Australian and New Zealand passport-holders, but that’s okay. – read more

I’m a bit old-fashioned anyway, so having my passport controlled by a

real-life person is okay. After all it has always been nice coming to New Zealand and having a chat with the person who gave me my little green stamp…

But I’m not saying SmartGate isn’t a good thing. I reckon for business travellers who cross the Tasman quite often it can fasten things up and make travel much more relaxing.


Posted by: sabrina | June 4, 2010

Snowy summer serenade

ON THIS hot summers’ day, bring on the snow and the frost!

Nz Ski Fields Map

GO FOR SNOW: Our skifields (pic:

STUFF: New Zealand skifields expect a busy winter. This weekend could be the first for Kiwi skiers to hit the slopes.

Where to go & what is special about those skifields:

  • Taranaki (Mt Egmont): Manganui club field has already some snow, first skiing could be possible this weekend, cost: $40 (daypass) – more here
  • Mt Ruapehu (Central Plateau): Whakapapa tracks & Knoll Ridge Cafe open; Turoa/Clarry’s track: best to go for with kids, kids holiday and weekend programmes & skiing courses; cost: $86 (adult day pass) – visit website
  • Mt Hutt: beginners area, terrain mix, electronic lift pass system, cost: $89 (adult day pass; kids up to 5 years ski for free) – more here
  • Coronet Peak (Southern Lakes District): special events & kids entertainment, Nightskiing,… cost: $95 (day pass) – more here
  • Tasman Glacier: 20 kilometre-run, accessible by ski plane – visit website
  • The Remarkables: Tubing Park for non-skiers/boarders, lookout… 25th birthday (of the area) party in the style of the 1980’s (01/08/10); cost: $89 (day pass) – more here

– read the full article here


Please take a sec, make your choice in the survey below and share your story in a comment below, if you like. I’m looking forward to your story!

(Scroll down to comment.)

I am blogging from the northern hemisphere these days, where it’s meant to be summer. Summer here, in my hometown, usually means sunshine, temperatures of at least 25°C and higher, ice cream, shadow-seeking, swimming pools and BBQs. Starting in March.

This year, I came back to Germany in March. Good swap, so I thought, as it was getting colder and rainy in New Zealand, so going straight into spring and finally summertime sounded good.

Just that it was not sunny and spring-time-like at all. Of all these weeks, this is the second day of sunshine. There was one day in April we had 28°C, but next day it was down to 11°C, but that was it. It stayed like that until now.

Yes, in New Zealand there was a time I had wished for snow, because after all, this is technically my fifth summer in a row – but I want either snow or sunshine. Nothing of this rain-wind-ugliness-coldish-mash-up.

Anyway, enough said: summer is here – and in NZ, winter is just about to breeze in. Enjoy. And think of me when you build a snowman!

Other informative websites if you’re interested in skiing in New Zealand:



License to chill – Multi mountain pass

Ski New Zealand

Posted by: sabrina | June 2, 2010

Terrible Travel (II): “Snakes” on a plane

VANISHING passports, stolen digital cameras, lost cash – and the holidays are literally over.

NEW ZEALAND HERALD: Jim Eagles’ story tells of people who have become victims of yet another form of holiday scams: in-flight thieves.

An overseas holiday without a passport is almost impossible. Stolen cash or expensive itmes such as cameras is almost as devastating for a traveler.

DANGER ZONE: Secure your luggage in the overhead locker and give in-flight thieves no chance to steal. (pic:

In-flight thieves often operate according to the book, airline staff and industry bloggers know:

“There is a false sense of security on a plane,” says industry blogger Steven Frischling when talking to the NZ HERALD.

He says people felt save because of being “confined in a metal tube”.

At, a collection of blogs gives advice on how to travel smarter. Flying With Fish gives you an overview on how in-flight thieves operate and how you protect yourself. – read more

What to do about in-flight thieves: Tipps and recommendations from airline staff and flyingfish

  • Watch your baggage/keep it close to your seat
  • Keep passports, money and other travel documents close to your body, e. g. in a carrier that goes around your neck or in a secure bag at your feet
  • Make sure your bags in the overhead locker are rather hard for thieves to get their hand into (lock them with a little lock, turn the bag around, so that the zipper doesn’t face the front,…)
  • If you witness someone looking through bags in an overhead locker, call the stewardess

COMMENT: Yes, in-flight thieves are a danger travelers should be aware of. And yes, it is somehow a topic that could be seen as “always current”. And yet, this is not an excuse for news papers or media agencies to use “old” news to fill space.
While researching in-flight burglary statistics, I found this article from February – telling exactly the same story as the NZ Herald story from yesterday. It’s about a man from Washington, Gregory Hendricks, and his wife, who is missing her passport after a flight to France. But, please, read yourselves:, February 17, 2010:

And then we have the NZ Herald, June 1, 2010:

Coincidence? I doubt it. Promising “new” news, but delivering old news… sorry, NZ HERALD, but that concept and those work ethics are some I don’t like. At least some attribution to globalpost (or whoever published it first) would have been nice.

Posted by: sabrina | June 1, 2010

Terrible Travel: How to scan for tourist scams

WITH the beginning of June, travel season is about to start soon. Kiwis might want to flee the big rain, Germans prepare for their unalterable summer holiday – but travelling is stressful.

According to a STUFF-story earlier this week, European destinations are the best choice for Kiwi travellers these days.

Thanks to the good old “economical downturn(aka “Financial Crisis 2007-2010” as Wikipedia calls it), Kiwi travellers get best value for their money in Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Strolling through unknown streets, walking along lonely, white and endless long beaches, discovering antique treasures in dignified museums… – what ardent imagination.

GONE WITH THE WIND: Victims of tourist scams lose money quicker than they can blink. (pic:

However, being a tourist can be quite stressful. Especially, if you find yourself the victim of a tourist scam: lead astray and robbed.

Before you explore the world, become aware of the top ten tourist scams (according to Stuff) and the cheap tricks the tricksters (who are often after your sympathy and then after your money) use:

  1. A sob story – to sell you a “gold” ring (France)
  2. Monkeys – to get them to steal everything you could imagine (Bali, Indonesia)
  3. Faked card slots for ATMs – to steal your card and PIN number (Trinidad and Tobago, Europe*)
  4. Children and postcards – to get you to write postcards that make you feel guilty so that you give the kids some money (Italy)
  5. Your credit card – to get you to pay twice (USA)
  6. Bird droppings and mustard – to distract you while taking things off you (Argentina, France)
  7. Service Phone Number-stickers at ATMs – to get you to call the faked helpline and tell them your PIN (Bali)
  8. Exchange services – to exchange your money to a “cheaper” rate and keep some of it (Zimbabwe)
  9. Front desk calls at ungodly hour – to get sleepy hotel guests to tell credit card details (USA)
  10. Fake money – to give you no value for your real money (China)

(*According to Stuff, this happens in Trinidad and Tobago, but in fact, “Scimming” happens all over Europe as well)

Have you been victim (or witness) of a tourist scam? Please comment below and share your story.



Posted by: sabrina | May 27, 2010

Why would windy Welly win?

I REALLY can’t say that I like the outcome of the latest “most-likeable-city”-survey-thingy.


Paul Easton’s story reports what the headline already says: that people would rather live in Auckland than in Wellington, according to an international ranking.

WINNER OF HEARTS: Wellington. (pic: own)

The 2010 Mercer Quality of living ranking, which uses New York as the base city for comparisons, shows that Auckland ranks not only higher than any German city, but also higher than Wellington.

Speaking as a journalist, I should now go on about how Auckland came fifth (or actually the second fourth, because it shares rank 4 together with Vancouver, Canada), Wellington came 12th and how Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Munich as well as Sydney ranked in between Wellington and Auckland.

I should probably also tell you, that the Stuff-poll results, so far, proove what the survey suggested: Auckland is ahead. (But only just :D)

Speaking as a human individual with subjective views and opinions, I have to say: sorry, but this is dissappointing. (Yes, I do like Wellington more than Auckland. So. There you go. It’s out. I said it.)

Some people who left comments on seem to share my view and opinion. (–> read the story on Stuff here)

A user named “Anne”, for instance, wrote:

Another user, “bruce” (#180), is amused:

My personal favourite comment, however, is from “Gary”:

Others brought up obviously solid arguments like… ah… well… the weather for example. Yes, wind, rain, humidity, sunshine – that kind of thing. All I can say to you: I miss drinking coffee in Windy Welly.

What do you think? Which city is for your “most liveable”? Windy Welly or the City of Sails (Auckland)?

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